Crown Commercial Service
Tips for smoother travel during disruption
We want to make you aware of some of the challenges and pressures that the travel industry is facing and share our top tips to make your travel plans easier during this time.
Travel was one of the hardest hit sectors during the pandemic with widespread job losses. Booking suppliers are now facing recruitment challenges and as a result, many suppliers have not yet returned to pre-pandemic levels. Many customers have reported facing difficulty when trying to contact their booking supplier by telephone and waiting considerable lengths of time to get through to speak to someone. We want to make you aware of some of the challenges and pressures that the industry is facing and share our top tips to make your travel plans easier during this time.
Cancellations and staff shortages
Prior to the pandemic, many customers were using self-booking tools for the majority of their booking activity. Currently, customers are nowhere near those levels. The increase in telephone bookings and enquiries adds to the difficulty of speaking to booking suppliers.
In recent weeks, large-scale disruptions caused by airline flight cancellations, staff shortages at airports and strikes on the UK rail network have placed considerable strain on travel booking suppliers.
There have also been occasional reports of challenges around payment for hotel stays where customers use Billback, or prepayment set up by the booking supplier. There are cases of hoteliers facing recruitment challenges following the pandemic and there are many new staff in place. Despite the conscientious efforts of booking suppliers to ensure that Billback and prepayment have been set up, there are still too many travellers arriving at properties only to be told they have to pay. This can be very distressing for those involved, but in many cases, it is not the fault of the booking supplier. CCS is continuing to work with travel suppliers to resolve these glitches in the process.
Top tips to follow
Where travel is essential, to help you and your fellow travellers have the smoothest possible booking experience please note the following top tips:
- Where possible, do not use the telephone to make new bookings. Instead, use the online booking tool provided. Only the most complicated multi- air routings and rail itineraries should need to be booked over the phone
- If you are unsure of how to use the online tool, take advantage of any training provided by the booking supplier. If there are no current sessions available, each supplier provides intuitive guides to using the online tools that are easy to follow.
- If your flight is not imminent (i.e.within the next 4 weeks) please do not contact your agent to check if your flight has been cancelled. Situations are changing frequently and your agent will proactively contact you if there is any change to your booking
- If you are booked on a train in the future when no strike date has been announced, please do not call your agent to ask if the train is running. Until a strike date is announced and the train operating company publishes whatever timetable may be operating, the booking supplier will not know
- If you have booked accommodation using either prepayment or Billback, ensure you have all proof of payment documentation with you. If your booking supplier recommends using a Mobile APP for payment confirmation such as Conferma, ensure you have it downloaded to either your work or personal mobile, as this will enable you to present proof of payment
If you should experience any issues with your booking service that are beyond reasonable in the context of the information given above, it is vital that these are addressed with your travel booking supplier. This can be done directly or via the relevant contract manager in your department or organisation.
You can find a full list of all the commercial agreements we offer, alongside details of how we can help you build policy considerations into your procurement, in our commercial agreements brochure.
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